Nancy Keane's Booktalks -- Quick and Simple

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New York : Orchard Books, 1990.
IL 5.8  RL 7.0
ISBN 053105893X

(2 Booktalks)

Booktalk #1 



Imagine that you are a thirteen-year-old girl and your only worry in the world is pleasing your parents and maybe improving your spelling grades on school assignments.  Then, imagine that in the short span of a few weeks your life changes so drastically that your worries now include being a convicted murderer sentenced to die.  Such are the worries of thirteen year old Charlotte Doyle.

The year is 1832.  Aboard the ship Seahawk, the lone passenger, Charlotte Doyle is making the trip from Liverpool, England to her home in Providence, Rhode Island.  Charlotte finds herself caught between the psychotic madness of the captain and a plotting revengeful crew. Charlotte, a young lady of gentle upbringing starts her journey determined to behave in a way that would make her parents proud. Befitting her status as a lady, Charlotte distances herself from the crew, which looks to her as if they were recruited from the doorstop of Hell.  Instead, she makes an effort to befriend the captain, who is, as she sees it, her equal, someone she can rely on, someone she can trust. Or is he?

Once the Seahawk is underway, Charlotte realizes that things are not what they seem.  Mysterious and frightful events begin to occur with regularity and soon the ship is enveloped in a mood of suspicion and danger.  A stowaway on board attempts to rouse the crew into mutiny but the captain puts it down.  In doing so,  however, the captain kills the stowaway and from here on out things take a turn for the worse.

The mutiny incident reveals a side of the captain that causes Charlotte to doubt his intentions and motivations. Yet at the same time she halfway believes that the captain is justified in killing the stowaway. After all, wasn’t he just defending himself and his ship?  Charlotte also begins to doubt her assessment of the disgruntled and revengeful crew.  Was she wrong to think of them as deserving of such harsh and cruel treatment by the captain?  These questions gnaw away at her and the tension mounts until the fateful night when a hurricane hits the Seahawk.  In the confusion of the storm, a crew member turns up dead--dead from a knife in his back--not any knife, but Charlotte’s knife.

With all of the evidence pointing to her, Charlotte finds herself convicted of the crime and confined to the rat infested brig while awaiting her fate, which is to be hung from the neck until dead. Can Charlotte save herself and pin the crime on someone else?  And even if she could would anyone aboard the Seahawk ever believe her?  What really happened aboard the Seahawk that night?  Find out the fate of Charlotte and the others aboard the Seahawk and read The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle. (MaryFrances Thomas

Booktalk #2

Before I begin relating what happened, you must know, my name is Charlotte Doyle and though I have kept the name, I am not the same Charlotte Doyle I once was.

It happened during the summer of 1832 aboard a ship called the Seahawk. Although I was warned not to board the brig Seahawk on June 16, 1832, no young girl of good upbringing would dare dream of disobeying her father's orders. And Papa had left orders that I should sail on the Seahawk to Providence with two other families that had booked passage. I had been told only that these families included children (three lovely girls and a charming boy). So when you consider that I had but dim memories of making the crossing to England when I was six, you will understand that I saw the forthcoming voyage as a lark.

When I arrived at the dock, the other families were not there, so I traveled alone. Once I boarded the ship, I realized that there was no turning back. Once upon the sea I discovered myself alone among a dozen rough crewmen, the only passenger on a voyage from Liverpool, England to Providence, Rhode Island. Within hours of the ship's sailing, a dagger was placed in my hand by the Seahawk's cook, Zachariah. It's for your own protection, he says. Soon I overhear murmurings and mutterings among the sailors, who resent my presence. I find myself caught between the madness of the ships master, Captain Andrew Jaggery--and the rage of a mutinous crew.

All too soon I learn the need for the dagger, because I learn to my horror it's a weapon to be used against me.

Keeping this journal is what enables me to relate now in perfect detail everything that transpired during that fateful voyage across the Atlantic Ocean in the summer of 1832 and how I came to be accused of murder, brought to trial, and found guilty. To find out what happens you need to read the book.  (Linda Hamrick Crestview, FL  <>)
SUBJECTS:      Sea stories.


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